November 30th is the fourth year for Small Business Saturday which is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country. Founded by American Express in 2010, this day is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Moving closer and closer to the holiday season, businesses across the country are using numerous efforts to drive customers to their stores.
According to the second annual Small Business Saturday Insights Survey released by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express, of those small business owners incorporating the Day into their holiday plans, 70% say Small Business Saturday will be helpful in attracting new customers.
This year, American Express, a founding partner of Small Business Saturday, will provide small business owners with resources such as downloadable signage, sample social media posts and online banners on ShopSmall.com. Organizations are also aligning to help small businesses do more business.
We had the opportunity to speak with Patricia Norins, a specialty retail expert and adviser to American Express OPEN about the impact and relevance of Small Business Saturday.
Why does American Express support small businesses?
American Express recognizes that local businesses are a vital part of our community and play an important role in maintaining the health of our national economy. In fact, nearly half the U.S. total retail sales are generated from independent retailers (Source: Amex and Civic Economics).
There was an interesting study conducted by Amex called the American Express Open Independent Retail Index. The research analyzed housing values over a 14-year period and found that in communities with thriving independent businesses, housing values were on average 40% higher than their broader markets.
In addition, small businesses maintain jobs in the community and local businesses support the community through paying taxes which strengthens our neighborhoods as well.
What advice would you give to small business owners preparing for the holiday season?
It's important for small business owners to regularly remind customers to Shop Small, not only on Small Business Saturday this November 30th, but also throughout the holiday season. These reminders can take the form of grass roots marketing efforts such as social media posts, email marketing, and invites to top customers.
In addition, I would suggest that small business owners offer a small incentive or reward customers for coming into their stores this holiday season. According to a recent study conducted by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), discounts will continue to be the top incentive used to encourage consumers to Shop Small this season.
I would encourage every small business owner to participate in Small Business Saturday this year. The day represents a wonderful opportunity for small business owners to invite customers and prospects to Shop Small on November 30th.
I would also encourage small business owners to collaborate with one another this holiday season. This year, 39% of small business owners are planning to collaborate with other small businesses in a community event to promote Small Business Saturday.
What are the most interesting statistics that business owners should know that come from your study?
66% of independent retailers plan to promote Small Business Saturday this year. Of those small business owners incorporating Small BusinessSaturday into their plans, 70% say Small Business Saturday will be helpful in attracting new customers.
Last year, nearly 100 million consumers shopped small and consumer awareness of SBS rose to 67%. The increased consumer awareness led to increased spending. Consumers spent $5.5 billion on Small Business Saturday last year.
Social media and word of mouth will remain the top methods for business owners to reach customers with their Small Business Saturdayofferings. However, the number of business owners who say they’ll rely primarily on paid advertising (TV, radio and newspaper) to promote Small Business Saturday has doubled this year.
Discounts will continue to be the top incentive used to encourage consumers to Shop Small. And, more business owners are planning to reward customers by offering them a free gift with purchase (33%, up from 20% in 2012).
- 67% will offer discounts on specific items or general discounts on the day;
- 36% will offer coupons for future offers or discounts;
- 32% are starting their holiday promotions earlier than last year
How has Small Business Saturday changed from when it was started?
Small Business Saturday, now in its fourth year, is growing like wild fire! An increasing number of businesses are participating every year, and communities are coming together to promote Small Business Saturday.
New for 2013, independent business owners are rallying together with other small business owners together to participate in the day through a new program called the SBS Neighborhood Champion Program. The Neighborhood Champions Program is a collaborative effort between American Express and business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), Latino Coalition and the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., to rally support and organize Small Business Saturday events in communities throughout the country. To date, more than 1,000 neighborhoods have signed on to participate, representing 49 of the 50 states.
Small business owners and community members are making the day their own through store events, town festivities such as a tree lighting or a local official declaring the day SBS. Some towns are even closing streets for a street fair.
How do business owners benefit from Small Business Saturday?
There is a tremendous amount of momentum that has been building over the past three years around the importance of shopping small. An increasing number of consumers want to support the businesses that are part of their community. As I mentioned above, $5.5 billion was spent at small businesses on Small Business Saturday last year.
It's a huge opportunity for small merchants to market and promote their participation in the day to drive more traffic and sales during this critical selling season. Often times, consumers want to go out and Shop Small but they need reminders about which stores and businesses to add their shopping list.